New Magnolia Ave Spot Should Become a Fixture

Fixture Kitchen and Social Lounge, a Near Southside newbie, offers comforting dishes and creative cocktails served by a hospitable staff.

| photography by Alex Lepe |

Fixture’s warm atmosphere makes it perfect for weekend brunch with friends or a casual date destination. There’s a strong community vibe, making it a suitable fit for its spot on Magnolia.

Featuring bright paintings by local artists on nearly every wall, Fixture’s stained concrete floors, wood tables and chairs and exposed beams and ducts keep the ambiance from becoming stuffy. Classic rock fills the air and gels harmoniously with conversation noise.

Chef Ben Merritt’s background includes the Woodshed Smokehouse and a stint working with Dallas celebrity chef Stephan Pyles. Made in the U.S.A. is a must for Merritt. He believes in supporting as many local and American-based businesses as he can. Fixture carries only American boutique wines, local craft beer and American spirits in an attempt to infuse the local economy, promote community and accrue more in-depth knowledge on the products served in the restaurant. 

We kicked the experience off with the Smoked Salmon Tomato Skins ($12). They nailed the smokiness of the North Atlantic salmon, which our server informed us had been smoked for hours, in-house, and had never been frozen. The tartness of the tomatoes and creaminess of the goat cheese were elevated by fried salty capers sporadically situated on the plate.

Merritt’s rendition of Chicken and Waffles ($11) has that familiar, addictive savory and sweet combo but with unique additions. The large round Belgian-style waffle filled the entire plate. Deep craters held pools of maple syrup, which is infused with chipotle and added heat and smokiness to the dish. Bits of rosemary are folded into the waffle batter, but the flavor isn’t overpowering.

A sprig of rosemary impaled in the fried chicken acts as a garnish, as do delicate chili threads spread about the dish. The thin peppery crust of the deboned chicken thigh did not have quite the crunch I would have liked. In fact, next time I’ll remember to order the syrup on the side. It’s inevitable that the syrup will lead to sogginess, and maybe that’s the preference of some, but I prefer crispy.

Shrimp and Grits ($14) at Fixture are not complex. An appropriate portion of sautéed Gulf shrimp lay evenly spaced atop green chili cheese grits. A small dollop of pico de gallo and a fresh micro green salad cut the heaviness of this dish and break the heat from the grits.

Being a self-proclaimed mac and cheese connoisseur, the Truffle Mac and Cheese ($7) needed to find a way to the table. Topped with black truffle oil, creamy manchego cheese blanketed firm elbow macaroni. It was less stringy or gooey and more like a delightful cheese gravy.

There really wasn’t room for dessert, but that didn’t stop me. Narrowing it down to just one proved to be difficult, but the Rio Star Pie ($7), an innovative take on key lime pie, won our vote. Replacing the lime with Texas grapefruit, the pie was served upside down with the crunchy graham cracker packed firmly on top. A mound of freshly whipped cream added a nice balance with the nutty topping and tart filling. Usually dessert signifies the end of the visit, but we were having too much fun.

The meal in its entirety was a home run. If you’d like to show your gratitude to the kitchen staff, buy them a round of beer for $2. It’s even listed on the menu.

Just a few steps up from the dining room is Fixture’s social lounge featuring a cool bar, exposed brick walls and giant windows behind the bar that open to one of the best patios in town. Service here was excellent as well. The bartender was informative and took pride in his cocktail creations.

Our drink order included the Fort Worthian ($10), which is a play on the Manhattan featuring TX Blended Whiskey, house-made vermouth and amaretto, and the Agua Fresca ($8 a glass or $30 for a carafe). The Agua Fresca, a cocktail that infuses seasonal flavors with vodka, citrus and soda, is dangerous. It’s one of those drinks that goes down a little too easily, and you don’t taste the alcohol. After watching the bartender make my second, I can guarantee you it’s in there.

It’s easy to fall under Fixture’s spell. Southern classics hold their charm and tradition while incorporating a fresh and innovative approach, and the service is impeccable. It’s easy to see how a quick lunch could inadvertently transition into a relaxed afternoon.

Location: Fixture Kitchen and Social Lounge, 401 W. Magnolia Ave.
For Info: 817.708.2663,
Hours: Tue. – Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Brunch Sat. & Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
What We Like: It's the perfect recipe for an enjoyable dining experience - comfort food, well-crafted cocktails, casual atmosphere and impeccable service.
What We Don't Like: The chicken skin was a little soggy. Order the syrup on the side.
Our Recommendation: Don't be in a hurry. There are culinary treasures on the appetizer, main course, dessert and cocktail menus.